86 votes

Why didn't C++ specify filename extensions?

Because it's not important to ... anything. The compilers don't care. The editors don't care. Back in the day, some operating systems didn't even HAVE "file extensions". DOS mandated them, ...
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  • 10.9k
57 votes
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Did INI files work in a different way on Windows 3.x than today?

You have been wrong for 30 years. I wrote the test program below and compiled it with Borland Pascal 7: uses WinTypes, WinProcs, WinCrt; var buffer: string; len: Integer; begin len := ...
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  • 17.2k
49 votes
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Why did base64 win against uuencode?

I’m not sure about specific events, but I think the main reason Base64 “won” is that it’s one of the binary encodings supported by MIME, and MIME took over. So perhaps the question then becomes two-...
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  • 96.6k
48 votes

How can I tell whether a DOS-looking exe. requires a 32-bit CPU to run?

Plain DOS executables, in either COM or MZ format, don’t provide this information in their headers (when there is one — COM format doesn’t have a header). The only reliable way to determine whether a ...
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  • 96.6k
44 votes

Do the holes in Jacquard loom punched cards represent input data or program code?

Do the holes in Jacquard loom punched cards represent input data or program code? yes. Let me tell you a story. Somebody I used to work with many years ago was flying into the USA (or it might have ...
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  • 10.2k
39 votes
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Magnetic exposure to floppy disk damages file system and requires complete reformat?

A formatted disk contains markers which identify the start of each track and the start of each sector within the track. These markers are fixed magnetic sequences that are picked up by the drive ...
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  • 7,609
34 votes
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Why didn't C++ specify filename extensions?

The first edition of Stroustrup's "The C++ Programming Language" (1986) consistently uses a ".h" extension for C++ header files and ".c" for C++ source files. C and C++ ...
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32 votes
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How did large .COM files work?

Most large files (over 64KiB) with a .COM extension are really MZ executables; the DOS loader doesn’t care whether the extension is .EXE or .COM, it uses the MZ signature to identify the format. This ...
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  • 96.6k
30 votes
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What were the differences in floppy disk formats between Amiga and IBM/PC compatible computers?

The Amiga disk format stores 512 bytes per sector, 11 sectors per track (a track is one side of a cylinder), double sided (i. e. 2 tracks per cylinder) with 80 cylinders per disk, which makes 80 * 2 * ...
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30 votes

Magnetic exposure to floppy disk damages file system and requires complete reformat?

The main thing is that there is no such thing as a "quick format" - That term is entirely misleading terminology invented by Microsoft. Quick Format doesn't "format" anything. What MS calls a "Quick ...
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  • 28.4k
28 votes

How well known and how commonly used was Huffman coding in 1979?

According to Google Scholar, Huffman’s 1952 paper had 326 citations by 1979, which given the volume of publication at the time means it was well-known, as far as can be determined now. Most ...
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  • 96.6k
26 votes

Why did base64 win against uuencode?

The problem with uuencode is that the format was not robust in the face of some of the really crufty mail software and gateways into and out of proprietary non-SMTP and non-ASCII mail systems of the ...
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  • 9,380
25 votes
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What format is the (Timex) Sinclair ZX Spectrum SCREEN$/.SCR file

For a standard screen, compatible with ZX Spectrum, a SCREEN$ file is 6912 bytes. It's just a dump of the screen memory. The first 6144 bytes store the screen bitmap: 256x192 pixels, 1 bit per pixel (...
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25 votes
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How well known and how commonly used was Huffman coding in 1979?

Well, in fact, a closely related question has been asked (and answered) few years ago: What is the history of data compression tools on personal computers? From that question, and its answer, it ...
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  • 3,812
21 votes
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What was the end of line convention for text files on the 8-bit Commodores

C64 Basic used a CR as EOL for disk files. (source: Commodore SX-64 User's Guide, page 22: “CR stands for the CHR$ code 13, the carriage return, which is automatically PRINTed at the end of ever ...
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  • 17.2k
20 votes
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What determines which architecture an a.out executable runs on?

The a_midmag field contains a machine identifier, which can be used on platforms which support that field. a_midmag is a 32-bit value stored in host byte-order (fun already), and bits 16 to 23 give ...
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  • 96.6k
20 votes

Any tools (that actually work) for viewing PDF files in FreeDOS?

I discovered the answer on my own. Turns out PSVIEW requires GhostScript, PDFTOPS, and LXPIC to be installed on the hard drive in order to run. GhostScript must be placed in 'C:\gs'. PDFTOPS and ...
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18 votes

Why didn't C++ specify filename extensions?

I wonder why Dr. Stroustrup chose not to be specific about this issue himself? You'll have to ask him. But based on what I've read from his website, he seems not to be strongly opinionated on ...
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  • 309
17 votes
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How to convert Amiga DMS to ADF?

From some quick research, WinUAE (a popular Amiga emulator) supports reading a DMS file just like an ADF. So you could probably mount it and then save it back as ADF. Also, according to the ADF Opus ...
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  • 2,733
17 votes

Do the holes in Jacquard loom punched cards represent input data or program code?

Program code for modern CPUs, in practice, consists of opcodes which tell the CPU what operation to perform, and operands which provide data to operate on. In RISC CPUs these are necessarily both ...
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  • 16.1k
17 votes

How can I tell whether a DOS-looking exe. requires a 32-bit CPU to run?

There is no easy way. The original DOS "MZ" type executable header do not contain such information about what kind of code it contains or what CPU type it needs. It just contains a binary ...
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  • 17.9k
16 votes
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How are File Timestamps recorded in classic Mac OS?

The HFS filesystem stores file metadata in a single large file called the "catalog file", with one record for each file or directory. Creation and modification times are stored as 32-bit unsigned ...
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  • 8,413
16 votes

What determines which architecture an a.out executable runs on?

The short answer is: early Unix systems did not bother to track which architecture an executable was for. In general, the architecture an executable was for, was the one the executable was found on. ...
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  • 11.3k
15 votes

Do the holes in Jacquard loom punched cards represent input data or program code?

All code is data. But not all data is code. For example, you can take a digital photo and the numbers represent light intensity across a 2D rectangle. Nobody would dispute that this is data but not ...
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  • 1,020
14 votes
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What is the format of the static libraries shipping with legacy Microsoft C for DOS?

These are OMF libraries; you can analyse them with Agner Fog’s object file converter. It probably only makes sense to work with those libraries if you intend to build software with Microsoft C 5.1, ...
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  • 96.6k
13 votes

Why did base64 win against uuencode?

Base64 is slightly more compact as it does not use a character indicating line length at the beginning of each line: % dd bs=1k count=1024 < /dev/urandom | uuencode /dev/stdout | wc -с 1444736 % ...
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  • 16.3k
13 votes

What were the differences in floppy disk formats between Amiga and IBM/PC compatible computers?

A little more background on the formats... When IBM is involved, it's all about history. IBM's first PC floppy disk format was single sided, 5-1/4", 160K on a single-sided drive. (40 tracks, 8 ...
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13 votes

How well known and how commonly used was Huffman coding in 1979?

If you actually look at how the Z-Machine compresses texts, it does the following (from memory, it's been a while): There's a list of frequently appearing words (like "the", "and") which are directly ...
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  • 21.9k
13 votes
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IBM mainframe classic executable file formats

@raffzahn describes object files, which are not executable. They need to be read into the linkage editor, which produces a load module. That is what CSV (the newer name of the component that loads ...
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12 votes
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When was the relocatable object module invented?

Grace Hopper invented a kind of linking loader in 1951 for the Univac, as part of the A-0 "compiler" (not a compiler like we understand it today). One must keep in mind that memory was extremely ...
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